Council's Community Development Officer Susan Clarke with members of the African Social Club: Meron, from Ethiopia, and Samuel Manguen and Apach Mapieu, who are both from South Sudan. 15 JUNE 2015
Council's Community Development Officer Susan Clarke with members of the African Social Club: Meron, from Ethiopia, and Samuel Manguen and Apach Mapieu, who are both from South Sudan. 15 JUNE 2015 Gemima Harvey

"With courage let us all combine"

IT'S Refugee Week and you are invited to celebrate.

The week, which is themed 'with courage let us all combine', recognises the positive contributions that refugees make to Australian society and coincides with World Refugee Day on Saturday.

Locally, a free 'all welcome' event including 'African leader presentations, entertainment, performances and refreshments' has been organised by the Coffs Harbour African Social Club in partnership with Coffs Harbour City Council.

It's happening on Friday night at the Cavanbah Centre, with doors opening at 6pm.

Those involved with the Coffs Harbour African Social Club come from several different African countries including South Sudan, Ethiopia, Liberia, Congo, Togo, Eritrea and Ghana.

The group's chairperson, Apach Mapieu, who is a refugee from South Sudan, said he felt very welcome when he arrived in Coffs Harbour.

"We wanted to have the social club so people can come together, interact and get to know eachother," he said.

Samuel Manguen, also a refugee from South Sudan, said the club links refugees from African cultures with other groups and agencies.

"We have been so well received and are so grateful for that, we want to help eachother and give back," Samuel said.

Council's Community Development Officer, Susan Clarke said the African Social Club was set-up to help those from African cultures who have settled in Coffs Harbour but are feeling isolated because "of a lack of family support, friends and of course the big cultural change."

"They want those people to feel there is somewhere to go to share experiences and be provided with an opportunity to seek help which falls outside the normal settlement needs," Ms Clarke said.

"They also have a playgroup which is sponsored by Red Cross to provide new mum's with a place to go and discuss their concerns, sometimes using an interpreter if required."

The African Social Club meets every Saturday, from 5pm - 8pm at the Anglican Church Hall and all are welcome.



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